Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ears to Hear

It’s been about four years since my oldest granddaughter has been involved in the annual singing recital at her grade school. During these four years I have been required to endure listening to first year instrument students in the 5th grade band/orchestra recital which is held immediately after the singing recital. You can’t just get up and walk out after your kin’s part is over...can you? I never thought that it could be possible that so many bad notes could be played simultaneously on flutes, violins, violas, trumpets, tubas, bassoons and oboes all under the admiring eyes of a 5th grade music teacher wielding a mighty baton.

Please don’t misunderstand. I think it is wonderful that kids this age are introduced to the fine arts and their exposure to that world is beneficial to all. Beethoven, Bach and Brahms are resting peacefully knowing that 5th graders all over the USA are attempting to play compositions that were written by these masters hundreds of years ago. I am quite positive that as young adults they will fondly remember these days while delivering pizzas during time off from their orchestral concert dates.

But wait....! Something amazing has happened this year...2008. Mark it down! My grandkid has reached the 5th grade this year and sits in the flautist section. A major change has ocurred. It is absolutely astounding to me that the 5th grade band/orchestra could actually improve so greatly in only a year's time. How was that possible? Could Obama have had anything to do with it?

It's Amazing!

H/T: Lisa

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now...?

If you haven’t had the pleasure OR misfortune of reading this public restroom "urban legend", here it is once again for your entertainment:

I had barely sat down when I heard a voice from the other bathroom stall saying, "How are you?" I don't know what got into me, but I answered, somewhat embarrassed, "Doin' just fine." And the other person said, "So what are you up to?" (What kind of a question is that?)

At that point, I was thinking, "This is too bizarre," so I said, "Uh, I'm like you - just traveling." At this point I was just trying to get out as fast as I could when I heard another question. "Can I come over?" O.K., this question was just too weird for me, but I figured I could just be polite and end the conversation. I answered: "No. I'm a little busy right now."

Then I heard the person say, nervously: "Listen, I'll have to call you back. There's an idiot in the next stall who keeps answering all my questions."

Such are the makings of the vignettes in our modern "cell-phone" age. Larry Dixon, Professor of Theology at Columbia Biblical Seminary & School of Missions, has come up with a unique idea for utilizing the cell-phone for evangelization. Here’s what he offers:

"We can turn this contemporary phenomenon of cultural impoliteness to the Kingdom’s advantage! We can get our own wired thingies, plug them into our ears, and carry on strategic, scripted conversations in public. But – and here’s the really brilliant idea – we can pretend to be speaking with someone on the other end of the line, but actually be witnessing to the nearest PICV ("Person in Cell phone Vicinity"). And we don’t even have to have a contract with a cellular company. The wired thingy doesn’t have to really work!

You find yourself standing in line in the local post office. Your conversation goes something like this:

"Yes, my dear, I understand your objection. But the Good News about Jesus Christ is really simple. It’s as simple as A-B-C. ‘A’ stands for the fact that you must accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. ‘B’ indicates that you must believe that He died for you. And ‘C’ refers to the fact that you must confess your sins to Him and ask Him into your heart. Yes, I know, Dear. I know you’ve seen some hypocrites in churches. But you’ll never find any fault with Jesus . . ."

Read the full article: Celling—the Gospel

Friday, November 14, 2008

Talk About Optimism

In April of this year I blogged about A Box of Old Books. This box has been a continual treasure for me, especially a book entitled "Valiant for the Truth, a Treasury of Evangelical Writings." From time to time I just pick up this book and open to a random page and begin to read. Now, this blog may be one of the shortest in my short blogging career. Here is the optimism and encouragement that I read this morning on the first open page:

"O Christian workers, my heart is high with hope. The dark horizon is blooming into the morning of which the prophets spoke, and of which poets have dreamed, and of which painters have sketched. The mountains will kiss the morning radiant and effulgent, and all the waves of the sea will become the crystal keys of a great organ, on which the fingers of everlasting joy shall play the grand march of a world redeemed." (T. De Witt Talmage, 1832-1902)

Talmage was a "Wordsmith". What a way to start the day!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The “Right” Thing

It is extremely hard for me to fathom that anyone, let alone a candidate for the Presidency of the United States of America, could say these words regarding a teen pregnancy: "if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby", thereby advocating the killing of human life, i.e. the baby, for the sake of convenience.

How long does one have to stop and think about that statement before the realization hits one square in the face..just who it is that is being punished for the mistake in the scenario above. Have we, as a civilized society, gone so far down that slippery slope that the abuse of a puppy dog garners more public sympathy than taking the life of an innocent infant in the safety of his mother’s womb? Is this really a "right" thing, that one person has over another person? Don’t we still "...hold these truths to be self evident....." I would hope and pray that the young women in our land that make that mistake would do the "right" thing. That is our only hope. Our efforts and prayers and focus should be toward the Juno’s of our society for the immediate future. For those who didn’t do the "right" thing...know that God has provided forgiveness by His marvelous grace through faith in the One who has given His life a ransom for many...even our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Providence or Blind Luck?

"Set the brake on the lead boxcar on track 23, Van", shouted the foreman. During my 2-1/2 year stint as a railroad trainman, I had set the brakes on hundreds of cars. This night was different. It was the middle of winter, midnight shift, six inches of fresh snow on the ground and my mind was somewhere other than the Santa Fe Rail Yard in Argentine, Ks.

I carelessly scurried up the ladder on the end of the boxcar to attempt to get to the platform where the brake could be set. I reached out for the top rung after letting go of the previous rung with my other hand. I grabbed a handful of air. I missed the top rung and my other hand had already released the rung below. Can you picture it? Now, I am going to give you the scenario as it should have played out from this point. The ladder on a boxcar goes up the full height of the car. This is somewhere between 11’ and 15’ off the ground. Since my right hand had missed the top rung my body should have fallen straight backwards onto the steel rail below which is perpendicular to the ladder. My head should have hit first in the center of this iron rail, probably crushing the skull. I weighed approximately 180 lb at the time and the force from a 15’ fall probably should have killed me instantly upon hitting the rail below.

So, what did happen? From my vantagepoint, upside down in mid air, I don’t really know how it happened..but here’s what did happen. I either gave a little push to the left, as I was falling...or God...? I ended up doing a perfect back dive from the top of the 15’ ladder of this box car..head first and hit the small ski jump area that identifies most all railroad tracks. Tracks are built up on a mound and I hit this mound perfectly as though it were a small ski jump. Six inches of fresh snow cushioned my fall. I slid to a halt about 6 feet from the rail totally uninjured. Not even the wind knocked out of me. My lantern, which was held in my left hand, went flying. The Engineer later told me he had never seen a trainman give a signal quite like the one he saw that night. He and the other co-workers came running to me. I was fine!. I finished the eight hour shift....and 50 years later still wonder what happened during that fall.

Providence or blind luck? We know, don’t we? "My times are in Thy hands:.." (Ps 31:15)

(Argentine Rail Yard)